Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Gordon Brown doesn't quite answer the question, and when I say 'quite'...

Watch from 0:46 and see if you think Gordon Brown was answering the question as asked.
Question from Robert Jay QC: "Were your aides involved in using the media to force, or attempt to force, Mr Blair's resignation? This was in 2006"

Gordon Brown (looking shifty): "I would hope not"

Question: "But were they involved?"

Gordon Brown's (looking even more shifty and not even looking at the questioner): "I would hope not, I've got no evidence of that."

Here's a second piece of Gordon Brown's evidence (given under oath remember). Do watch from 0:50 and as well as listening to what Gordon Brown says, watch his body language, his reluctance to look the questioner in the face and his frantic blinking. Perhaps the key question and non-answer comes near the end of the video, from 2:15:
Questioner Robert Jay QC: "... Did you authorise your aides to brief against Mr Blair?"

Gordon Brown: "No"

Questioner: "Do you think they might have done so without your explicit approval, even with your knowledge?"

Gordon Brown: "if they did so it was without my authorisation"

As Gordon Brown did not add "or my knowledge", can we assume that is was done with his knowledge?

I am not alone in 'doubting' parts of Gordon Brown's testimony. Adam Boulton writes:
'Few who remember Gordon Brown as Chancellor and Prime Minister will have seen him as he saw himself.

According to his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, he was calm and seldom got angry.

He had little interest in what the newspapers said about him. He never courted Rupert Murdoch and other proprietors.

And he never authorised his staff to brief and scheme against Tony Blair or anyone else.

The Brown version was given unchallenged by the inquiry QC - even though the most frequent epithet used to describe it by veteran journalists was "jaw dropping".

The question is what Leveson will do with all this testimony. For example, either Mr Brown or Rupert Murdoch must have lied under oath about the declare war phone call.'

But that's Sky News, a Murdoch outlet, I hear the Brownites cry.

Quentin Letts in The Mail writes:
'But you would also need the virginal innocence of a Carmelite nun to think – contrary to the impression of his former colleagues – that he never asked, nor knew about, the toxic-waste tactics of his feral spin doctors. As they say in Fifeshire bell-ringing circles, ‘pull the other one, Jimmy’.


Mr Brown swore on the Bible that he would tell the truth.


The polygraph industry will study, perhaps with admiration, Mr Brown’s claims not to have known about a plot to unseat Tony Blair. He said he never allowed vested interests to be favoured over the national interest. He insisted, glowering, that he never had the much-discussed telephone call when he reportedly declared war on the Murdochs. At mentions of the Tories, his lip curled like one of Ali Baba’s slippers and his eye acquired an Arctic frost. At the end, as he left, he made awkward smalltalk with members of the public.

One could dispute much that he said yesterday but afterwards my chief feeling was was one of sorrow – for this once powerful man’s plain unhappiness, whatever its cause. A certain amazement, too. Is it really only two years since those gnawed digits were within thumping distance of our nuclear button?'
But that's The Mail, I hear the Brownites cry. Although I remember The Mail being far too tolerant of Gordon Brown's oddities and misdemeanours whilst he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and then Prime Minister.

So how about the BBC? Here's Nick Robinson on the Today programme.
'"Jaws hit the floor... there was disbelief" in the political press, he said, when Mr Brown denied he had authorised his aides to brief against Tony Blair.' Nick Robinson then directly calls Gordon Brown out for lying on air at the 2007 Labour Party Conference.

Guido Fawkes has a list of tweets from political journalists regarding Gordon Brown's evidence at the Leveson Inquiry:
' #LevesonInquiry overheard at RCJ veteran hack: either the police or men in white coats should be waiting for GB when he finishes.—
adamboulton (@adamboultonSKY) June 11, 2012

Were his aides involved in trying to force Blair out. 'I would hope not'. Did he say they could 'No.' Does he know he is on oath?—
Tim Shipman (Mail) (@ShippersUnbound) June 11, 2012

Gordon Brown's comments on the activities of his press aides are prompting gasps of incredulity in the parliamentary lobby.—
tom bradby (@tombradby) June 11, 2012

Wow. He 'didn't know' about the September '06 plot. Wow. My ghast is well and truly flabbered #leveson—
Benedict Brogan (@benedictbrogan) June 11, 2012

No one on the Lobby corridor is even laughing at this display of disingenuous nonsense. The only sound is jaws hitting the floor—
Tim Shipman (Mail) (@ShippersUnbound) June 11, 2012

"We cannot learn the lessons about the media unless there is some honesty involved". Well quite. #leveson—
James Kirkup (@jameskirkup) June 11, 2012

What will James Gordon Brown's father think? Ex PM swore on bible to tell truth #leveson—
Nicholas Watt (@nicholaswatt) June 11, 2012

One is forced to conclude GB has a problem facing reality.—
tom bradby (@tombradby) June 11, 2012'
What is interesting is that the BBC's political editor has called Gordon Brown a liar for what he said on air in 2007 and more than gently hinted that Gordon Brown lied under oath at the Leveson Inquiry, yet the BBC are not pushing that angle or even publicising it; I wonder why not?

I have found a couple of tweets that are supportive of Gordon Brown:
'I TRULY AM @NicholaJW: "@SarahBrownUK should be incredibly proud of her husband at #levenson He has acted with integrity, honesty & dignity"—
Sarah Brown (@SarahBrownUK) June 11, 2012'
'integrity, honesty & dignity' - Hmmmm

A final point, do remember that witnesses at the Leveson Inquiry have to swear on oath to give truthful evidence, presumably therefore they could be charged with perjury if it is discovered that they have not done so.

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